Last October, Superstorm Sandy provoked widespread frustration and fear after it left more than 7.5 million people in the New York Metro area without power. In the hardest hit areas, outages lasted two weeks or more. These failures led many observers to wonder if America’s aging electrical grid was up to dealing with emerging climate and other challenges.
New research gives a unifying explanation of the Sahel’s past, present and future climate patterns.
After John Diebold, an enormously popular and influential marine scientist, died suddenly in summer 2010, friends and family erected a memorial to him: a carved red oak bench they installed on a causeway along the Hudson River, inscribed with “GONE TO SEA.” Then along came Hurricane Sandy.
On April 22, 2013 the Earth Institute’s Haiti Research and Policy Program at the Center on Globalization and Sustainable Development welcomed Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe to the Spring 2013 Haiti Dialogue Series and the Columbia University World Leader’s Forum. The prime minister and Haitian diplomats met with Earth Institute senior researchers to discuss the strategies for the Haitian government’s national-scale monitoring, planning and implementation development programs.
A new method for detecting big landslides is allowing scientists to understand the dynamics of these elusive events almost instantly, without traipsing to remote mountains or scrambling up rugged peaks months, or even years, later. In a recent study in the journal Science, Göran Ekström and Colin Stark, geophysicists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, have catalogued the 29 largest landslides since 1980 using satellite images and recordings from a global network of seismic instruments. A third of the avalanches are documented now for the first time.
Tornadoes, derechos and other violent storms can kill hundreds each year and cause billions in damages. How well can we predict them? How will climate change influence their occurrence? Experts from around the country discussed these issues at a recent workshop.
Sea levels are inching up year by year, and by various projections could be two to six feet higher by 2100—enough to make some small, low-lying island nations uninhabitable, or simply to wipe them off the map. What rights will citizens have to live elsewhere; in fact, will these entities actually still be nations, with [...]
Cynthia Rosenzweig of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies talks about the work of the New York State Ready Commission, set up after Hurricane Sandy to study how the state can better prepare for natural disasters.
The threat of sea-level rise–actually, its ongoing reality–has been on many more minds since New York and surrounding areas were walloped during Hurricane Sandy by a record-high storm surge, abetted by a water level that has risen steadily over the last century. That level will keep rising if climate keeps warming, and so, probably, will the frequency of extreme weather. That is why the new book Rising Seas: Past, Present Future by geologist Vivien Gornitz is a timely and important contribution to helping people understand the issue.
Haiti Dialogue Series: Should funds be more effectively channeled through the Haitian government, a decentralized finance program could help streamline financing and reinforce local government planning efforts. As part of the Haiti Research and Policy Program dialogue series, Tatiana Wah was joined by Leslie Pean to discuss possible approaches to achieving the call for decentralization in Haiti that has been a part of the country’s development plans for decades, with renewed efforts after the 2010 earthquake. Most current international aid and development funding circumvents the government ministries at the national level. The lack of dedicated local budgets, as well as a weak incentive structure to attract or retain skilled professionals who are capable of complex governance, is a considerable hurdle for any decentralization proposal in Haiti.